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Mahale National Park
Stretching from sandy, white beaches on Lake Tanganyika to 2000m high forested peaks, Mahale National Park has epic scenery, rare and wonderful wildlife and all the mystery associated with African jungles and treks. The beaches are almost exactly halfway between the two altitudes that mark the extremities of this park; 2000m up and nearly 2000m down to the bottom of Lake Tanganyika!
Approximately 1000 wild chimpanzees, and 8 other primates (yellow baboon, red colobus, blue, red-tailed and vervet monkeys, lesser and thick-tailed greater galago and the endemic Angolan black-and-white colobus), range through the vast park. A scientific research centre established in 1965 by the Japanese for primate study continues at Kasoge. The “M” group chimpanzees are the main subjects and focus of tourist treks. The best time for visiting is dry season (July to October), when the chimpanzees descend from the mountains to the lower slopes. Outside of these months trekking is harder up on the higher slopes but its virtually guaranteed that over a 4 day stay, you’ll encounter the primates at least once. Mahale can only be accessed by boat and explored by foot!
The crystal clear waters of Lake Tanganyika, essentially a flooded rift valley, hold an unbelievable 1/6th of the world’s fresh water. From the deck of a traditional wooden dhow you can achieve a stunning view of hippopotamus running along the bottom of the lake. Over 100 species of cichlids (fresh water fish), are found along with sponges, crabs and jellfish. The jellyfish are unrelated to the marine species and of great interest to scientists. One species of fish is so old, his nearest relative died out before the dinosaurs!
Spotted otter dart among the underwater rocks and crannies while water cobra, crocodile and numerous water birds live among the reeds on the water’s edge.
The eastern slopes of Mahale are home to elephant, lion, African hunting dog, buffalo and giraffe, although given their wild nature and thick habitat, sightings are rare. To see big game we’d recommend combining Mahale with Katavi National Park just 1.5hrs flight away.
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